The commercial and residential glass industry is constantly evolving, and different trends are consistently entering the marketplace. As many people know, glass has come a long way since its inception. Today, glass can be finished, tinted, colored, and treated nearly limitlessly. In some cases, glass can be the primary material in which a building is built with.
If you’re involved in glass installation, commercial construction, or architecture, it’s likely that you’ve heard the term curtain wall glass. If you’re asking yourself ‘what are glass curtain walls?”, you’re in luck! Glass Solutions offers a full range of commercial glass curtain wall installation and repair services in Raleigh and surrounding areas.
Locally owned and operated, we offer more than 100 years of total combined glass repair and replacement services to our customers, a level of expertise that is unmatched in Raleigh and surrounding areas. This extends to include the degree of skill, training, and dedication to excellence that each of our glass installers and glass management staff has received.
What Are Glass Curtain Walls?
Simply put, glass curtain walls are non-structural cladding systems for the external walls of buildings. More often than not, they’re associated with large, multi-story buildings and are part of a building envelope or part of a one wall system. Typical glass curtain wall systems are comprised of lightweight aluminum frames that house glazed or opaque panels of infilled glass. There are also numerous different types of infill panel options.
Glass curtain wall systems were first introduced in the late 1930s after an increase of inexpensive bulk aluminum came about after World War 2. Before World War 2 ended, it was very uncommon to see aluminum being used as construction material.
Glass Curtain Wall System Infill Panel Options
There are several possible types of infill panels for glass curtain wall systems including:
- Spandrel Glass: These panels are made of glass and conceal building components such as floors, HVAC, structural columns, plumbing, electrical wiring, etc. This type of glass is usually located between vision glass on each floor of a building and is used as a tool to help ensure the project appears to be finished. Spandrel glass must be heat-treated to avoid thermal stress breakage.
- Vision Glass: These panels are made of transparent glass. This type of glass may be double or triple-glazed, may include low-e coatings, and may include a reflective coating.
- Aluminum and other metals: These panels are designed to be used as a replacement for glass. These types of panels are available in a variety of profiles and thicknesses and can accommodate different design requirements.
- Stone or Brick Veneer: These panels are also designed to be a replacement for glass. They are available in numerous colors, thicknesses, and profiles, and can accommodate several design requirements. The integration of these materials offers a seamless look while also limiting the possibility of leaks between trade areas. Some similar materials include granite, marble, travertine, limestone, and arriscraft.
- Terracotta: These panels are lightweight and can create beautiful and unique textures and rhythms. Terracotta is available in numerous colors, patterns, textures, shapes, and sizes.
- Fiber-reinforced Plastic (FRP): Comprised of carbon fiber reinforced polymers (CFRP), these panels have been used in several industries that required high strength-to-weight ratios and rigidity. Because it’s lightweight, weather and mold resistant, durable, cost-effective, and highly-customizable, more and more glass professionals have been going this route when working on a residential or commercial glass curtain wall project.
What Purposes Do Glass Curtain Walls Serve?
Glass curtain walls have important purposes, the main ones being protecting a building’s exterior from natural occurrences such as sun exposure, earthquakes, powerful gusts of wind, and drastic temperature changes. Simply put, interior environmental control and structural safety are the two main categories of glass curtain walls’ roles in protection.
One abnormal aspect of glass curtain walls that many may not know is that they only support their own weight and the loads imposed on them, such as seismic loads, wind loads, etc., rather than the building’s weight along with their own weight and weight imposed on them. This type of construction is considered abnormal to many industry professionals while considered innovative and contemporary by others.
As time goes on, homeowners have been leaning more and more towards open buildings via large facades (the piece of architecture that separates the interior of a home from the exterior). Generally speaking, in today’s age, the more transparent, the better.
How Thick Are Glass Curtain Walls?
While every project differs case-by-case, the thickness is typically determined by the type of project.
For commercial glass curtain wall installation, thicknesses typically range from 1/4 inch to 1 inch. The 1-inch insulation glass usually consists of two sheets of glass ranging from 1/4 inch to 1/2 inch.
For residential glass curtain wall installation, thicknesses typically range from 1/8 inch to 5/8 inch. Thicker glass is typically applied for buildings with thermal, relative humidity, or sound transmission requirements. A prime example of a building with sound transmission requirements would be a recording studio.
How Much Do Glass Curtain Walls Cost?
The pricing of these systems can vary depending on the specifics: is the project a standard prefabricated system or a specialized and fully-custom wall unit?
Typically, the more customization involved with a project, the higher the cost. In some instances, it’s more cost-effective to customize a glass curtainwall system project if the building is considered large, which is something to take into consideration.
Keep in mind, glass curtain wall systems are not exclusive to commercial applications; residential glass curtainwall installation is becoming more and more popular as time goes on.
Glass Solutions is Here to Help: Contact Us Today
Whether you’re in search of residential or commercial glass curtain wall installation, Glass Solutions can help! Get in touch with the expert Glass Solutions professionals to learn how we can make your glass curtain wall dream become a reality.
Not only will we provide you with a FREE estimate, we’ll handle all of your insurance paperwork for you as well!